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Starbucks workers at a store location in Biddeford announced their intent to unionize last week, joining hundreds of Starbucks employees at 260 of the company’s stores across the country who have filed for union elections.
In a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz, the workers at Store #48490 said the decision “comes from a love for our store and communities.” However, they pointed that while Starbucks’ profits are soaring, the employees are overworked, underpaid and “burnt to the core.” The letter reads in part:
We are tired. We’ve continued to make every moment mean something, even though our hours have been cut drastically, our income threatened and our benefits taken away. Starbucks has decreased training hours significantly over the past few years. It is unrealistic to support incoming partners with such a short span of time, on top of the insufficient staffing. We are struggling daily on a mental, emotional and physical level. We’ve had to pick up second jobs to provide for ourselves and our families. Our pay rates fail to compete with the rising costs of living.
The Biddeford workers also complained that the company is putting them and their customers at risk for COVID exposure by forcing employees to come into work sick.
“It’s become clear to us that Starbucks has chosen to put profits over its partners,” they wrote.
By unionizing, they said said they hope to “rebuild the company that once valued us as partners.”
“We want empathy, respect and transparency. If you insist on calling us partners, then treat us as such,” they wrote. “We are the face of Starbucks. We deserve a seat at the table to have our voices heard and dignified. We demand that Starbucks recognize our legal right to unionize and refrain from underhanded , illegal anti-union tactics at our store. Enough is enough.”
The letter was signed by Starbucks employees Ash Macomber, Preslee Jennings, Chloe Hoecker, Chloe Corral, Ashley Tomah, Stephanie Elliot and “others who wish to remain anonymous.”
Andy O’Brien is the communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO.
Maine AFL-CIO Weekly Update, May 19, 2022, https://maineaflcio.org/news/